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FAQs on Brackish Water Plants

Related Articles: Planting The Brackish Water Aquarium. It's Not Just Java Ferns Any More! by Neale Monks, Brackish Plants

Related FAQs: 

Cryptocoryne wendtii, Anubias nana, Java fern, Vallisneria spiralis, Elodea, and the Indian fern Ceratopteris are all good choices.

1) Combining shrimps; 2) proper rainbows school in 29 gallon; 3) and plants in brackish       8/2/16
Hi Neale or Bob, whomever knows best on these shrimp, fish, and plants, or you can both answer. [��]
<Well, here's my go!>
According to this article below:
http://www.planetinverts.com/Will%20These%20Shrimp%20Interbreed.html, it appears that I can keep these 2 types of shrimp Neocaridina Heteropoda var. Red & Caridina cf. spongicola together and there's no risk of interbreeding?
<"No chance" seems a bit over-certain. But different genera, i.e., Neocaridina and Caridina, shouldn't interbreed, no.>
And they both tolerate my hard water.
<Correct. Water chemistry seems unimportant for most shrimps, whereas water quality is critical, not to mention avoidance of toxins such as copper.>
Other alternative: is it ok to keep ONLY female shrimp if you do not want them to reproduce, such as in a 5 gallon nano planted aquarium, maybe 10 female of each of those two species, or would the shrimp be crabby and fight with each other all the time with no male shrimp around?
<The females are fine on their own.>
Also: I read Both of your articles on the plants that tolerate brackish! I am again "considering" a low level brackish when I redo my 29 gallon with new fish. I have 2 types of Anubias, one with the typical roundish leaves that look like the terrestrial ivy, and another where the leaves are elongated. So these should tolerate a slow transition to brackish?
<If you're talking SG 1.002, 1.003 for the needs of fish that want a taste of salt (Bumblebees, Mollies, Knight Gobies, Chromides, Figure-8s, etc.) then yes, Anubias will usually do very well.>
And most swords? I saw this sword below, Echinodorus 'Ozelot', that someone is claiming tolerates lower light. I have a strip of supposedly plant supporting led's (all our LFS are selling anymore) that claim they're as good as 2 fluorescent lights, and Anubias are thriving and growing larger in size.
<The hardy hybrid Echinodorus will generally tolerate SG 1.002-1.003 without problems, assuming all else (substrate and especially lighting) are good.>
I am not sure I'll go brackish, but if I do, would a large school of black mollies be ok to house with a white goby-- I think he's called the Knight goby? Or would he be likely to attack them, or be attacked?
<Knight gobies, sometimes called "Fan-Dancer Gobies" in the US, are extremely beautiful fish. Easy to keep, too. HOWEVER, they are extremely good predators, and will consume any/all tiny fish (such as Molly fry, or even adult male Guppies) kept with them.>
It seems like it would be a cool setup and I might even add some Val.s or Sagittarius.
<Again, both these tend to tolerate low-end brackish water.>
Once I purchase the fish I think I will add a lot of Watersprite too, and some java moss. Is it ok to add the Knight last rather than all the fish at once?
<Knights are a little finicky so far as feeding goes, and territorial amongst themselves, but otherwise unproblematic, so add them whenever you want.>
The Mollies and plants will need to be transitioned to Brackish gradually,
<The Mollies can be dumped in seawater, so I'd not worry about transitioning them! Really, if you set the tank up at SG 1.001 at 25 C/77 F, you can add all the plants and livestock in one fell swoop. Over the next few months raise the salinity to SG 1.002, and see how things go. Only if you have problems with fish health, e.g., fungus, would I worry about going any higher than that with this collection of species. None of them needs a lot of salt. Literally just a taste, and your Rainbows really don't want anything more saline than this anyway. They aren't really brackish water fish.>
but I think knights are already sold in brackish environment so I think I'd need to do it in that order.
<They're very hardy, so a few weeks in hard freshwater won't do any harm. I'd get them while they're healthy rather than wait too long and see them starve, a real risk if they're for sale someplace that only offers flake food (which they won't eat, usually).>
And with the plants I have and mentioned I may add, how many hours should I leave the lights on?
<12 hours is a good starting point.>
It is programmed to only be on for 8 hours daily. I can reprogram it however I wish. I tended to get algae before growing on the plant leaves leaving it on 12 hours, and there's not excessive algae now. IF I add Mollies they'll nibble it I'm sure.
<Indeed. I do the 6 hours on, 2 hours off, 6 hours on thing and find it works well. Pretty much no algae (I think I clean the glass once a year!).>
My other choice if I don't go brackish (and I would definitely do Val.s or Sagittarius in this case) would be Melanotaenia boesemanni. In a 29 gallon, would they be comfortable with heavy plant growth (I'll grow the grassy plants up before adding them)-- Melanotaenia boesemanni, if I stock 2 males and 4 females?
<Sounds good. Nice fish, even better if you can get wild-caught or F1 specimens, which are even more brilliant than the farmed ones.>
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: 1) Combining shrimps; 2) proper rainbows school in 29 gallon; 3) and plants in brackish       8/2/16

Thanks Neale.
Re: 1) Combining shrimps; 2) proper rainbows school in 29 gallon; 3) and plants in brackish What about Mollies, if I keep all females or all males in a largish group?
Would they be ok like that, or fight?
<People do keep single sex groups of Mollies, yes; and I agree, a largish group, at least three, would be the way forward with the males especially which tend to squabble. Females are fine as singletons, pairs, whatever...
though odd females become feisty, they're usually pretty mellow.>
There would be no babies to breed, and if I notice one is pregnant later I could remove her... that's my only hesitation against the Mollie/Knight set up.
<The Knights will eat any/all Molly fry, believe me! They're very predatory. You could also get a Crazyfish, Butis butis, to eat the fry as well. A classic brackish water sleeper, very attractive, especially when mature.>
I'm not sure I want to see the knight eating molly babies.
<You won't see it! It's over very quickly. Butis butis hunts at night, if that helps.>
Rainbows (non-brackish) are more peaceful, I could go that way instead... no worries that way. If I can find the fish to buy.
<Rainbows will probably eat some of the fry, too.>
Thank you.
<Welcome. Neale.>
Re: 1) Combining shrimps; 2) proper rainbows school in 29 gallon; 3) and plants in brackish       8/2/16

Thanks. That helps.
<Welcome. Neale.> 

Vallisneria and figure 8 puffers      3/1/16
I've read as much as I can and it's unclear, is sg 1.005 not low enough for Vallisneria species that are sometimes kept in brackish water?
<Maintain the tank at SG 1.002 to 1.003, and keep the pH and hardness in the alkaline range; say, pH 7.5-8, 10-20 degrees dH. This will suit both species. Higher salinities will probably stress the Vallisneria and won't
confer any great benefit to your puffers. They're happy enough in 10% seawater, i.e., around SG 1.003. Both prefer hard, alkaline water chemistry. So far as I know, there are no exclusively brackish Vallisneria,
though you're quite right, several species do occur in slightly brackish habitats. Cheers, Neale.>

Gulf pipefish     11/6/14
I was researching freshwater pipefish and I ran across this article about the gulf pipefish
I was wondering if there was any plant that can handle such a wide shift of salinity?
<Many species. But few/none traded. Eelgrasses and tapegrasses are native to such habitats of course, but aren't traded and are notoriously difficult to settle into aquaria (need massive amounts of light and deep substrates of appropriate types). Plastic plants would be easier if you're after a wide salinity range/variation. On the other hand, if you're sticking to salinities between SG 1.003-1.005 at 25 C, then Vallisneria itself would be an option, as well as certain Crinum species.>
Even if it sticks out of the water I would use it. And would the filter
feeding wood shrimp be a good tank mate or would it cause nervous behavior from the pipefish.
<Atyopsis spp are a hassle to keep alive at the best of times, and throwing them into a brackish water aquarium isn't going to help. I'd skip them. On the other hand, certain small, euryhaline algae-eating shrimps might work, such as Amano Shrimps, Grass Shrimps, etc. Cheers, Neale.>

Salt, plants, and crabs -- 07/21/11
Dear plant and crab expert,
<Yikes! Quite a combo, there'¦>
I'm converting one of my 10 gallon tanks to a paludarium. Most of the tank will be water (approximately 4 gallons), with lots of shelves on the back (for plants), and a shelf on the left with a ramp for easy access in case a land animal falls in the water.
<I see.>
I'm planting it with hairgrass, several crypts, and any other plants I can think of, even though I want it to be an Asian biotope (Samolus sp, baby tears, etc). I'd like to host red claw crabs (Perisesarma bidens),
<These are best kept as brackish water animals
and don't do well in freshwater indefinitely.>
Hermit crabs (Uca sp.),
<These are 100% brackish/marine animals -- whatever the retailer says -- and will die unless kept in brackish to marine conditions.>
and some aquatic insects (springtails, water louse, water striders).
<May not/will not be compatible with brackish water livestock.>
I can't really find a solid answer about how much salt is needed'¦ I was hoping 1 tsp of reef salt per gallon would be enough.
<SG 1.003 would be the absolute minimum; that's about 6 grammes per litre of water. Teaspoon measurements are very, VERY inaccurate, but 6 grammes is about 1 level teaspoon. Check it yourself using kitchen scales and act accordingly. Above SG 1.003 you'll have problems with plants; below, the Uca and probably the Perisesarma will be less robust, dying.>
I also can't really find out whether that would kill the plants or not.
<May well do unless you choose plants carefully. As it happens, Samolus valerandi is extremely salt tolerant. On the other hand, Hemianthus callitrichoides is not. Eleocharis species sometimes tolerate slightly brackish water but it varies between species. Hardy Cryptocoryne species like C. wendtii tolerate slightly brackish water, and C. ciliata is a true brackish water specialist. So do your research here, for example:
If I use reef salt, would I still need iodine supplements?
I'll also likely add some glass shrimp to the tank- if they get eaten, that's okay.
<These tolerate slightly brackish water well.>
Because the land area is built of shelves, is it ok if the crabs don't have a dry area to tunnel in? The terrestrial and aquatic plants should provide hiding places to help them feel secure.
<The plants will also be food for the crabs, especially the Perisesarma.>
Can you recommend any other inverts that would do well in this setup?
<Crabs generally don't cohabit with anything, and you would be very unwise to mix Perisesarma and Uca; the Uca are essentially non-aggressive (if territorial) deposit feeders that sift mud and algae, while the Perisesarma are aggressive opportunists that will view the Uca as potential food.>
I was also considering Nerite snails'¦
<Can work extremely well with Uca and shrimps.>
Thanks, David
<Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Salt, plants, and crabs -- 07/21/11
What about moon/Halloween crabs?
<Gecarcinus quadratus.>
I was thinking maybe mixing a mostly terrestrial crab with a mostly aquatic crab so the smaller ones could escape'¦
<Not a chance of mixing Gecarcinus quadratus with Uca spp.; do understand that crab species DO NOT cohabit in the wild, and most view one another as either rivals for living space or potential meals. There is an ample literature on this based on crabs in reef tanks; do read.>
It's ironic to me that Uca might be less likely to eat plants, but prefer more salt'¦
<Hmm'¦ not really ironic, merely a reflection of the fact these crabs come from beaches and salt marshes where freshwater aquarium plant species are absent.>
I might have to decide whether to kill my plants with salt or serve the crabs a salad bar. It's a shame. I might end up having to scrap the crabs altogether,
<Do look at Thai Micro Crabs.>
and go with Cambarellus Patzcuarensis var. Orange, also known as the dwarf Mexican crawfish.
<A fine beastie, though irregularly traded.>
At least it's plant-safe and peaceful according to everything I've read.
<Hmm'¦ the smaller crayfish are less aggressive and less destructive, but it would be unwise to assume non-aggressive and non-destructive. Potentially safe in mixed species tanks, but do bear in mind these have only been in the trade a year or two, so there's very little experience to draw on, and certainly not every combination of crayfish, fish, and plant hasn't been tried.>
Not sure if it would ever leave the water though..
<Fully aquatic.>
I don't want the land area to go to waste.
<Paludarium systems tend to work best with frogs, to be honest, rather than inverts. You might consider tree frogs alongside, say, similar sized aquatic frogs or newts. Mudskippers are of course another possibility, and can, if species are chosen carefully, cohabit with Uca spp. and certain brackish water livebearers, such as Mollies. Provided the plants above the waterline are insulated from the brackish water and watered with freshwater, there's little risk of salt poisoning them, and conversely, there are true brackish water plants that might be placed under the waterline to green things up there. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Salt, plants, and crabs  7/23/11

Sorry, I've been doing a lot of research. I think instead of giving the fiddler crabs (Uca sp) the minimum amount of salt, I'll give them whatever is ideal. Do you think 1.008-1.010 would be about right?
After a lot of research, I've found a list of plants that should survive at those levels... I'll put it here so you can share it with others. I assume some of these plants won't make it, but most should, as long as they're
acclimatized slowly.
Variegated Acorus (Acorus gramineus var. 'variegatus') Terrestrial/Emersed
Cryptocoryne pontederiifolia Terrestrial/Emersed
Crinum Calamistratum Submerged
Lilaeopsis novae-zealandiae (Microsword) Terrestrial/Emersed
Glossostigma Terrestrial/Emersed
Java Moss Terrestrial/Emersed
Java Fern 'Windelov' Undecided
Anubias Nana Emersed
Azolla Floating
Various Crypt species (already had) Submerged, will allow to grow emersed
Hairgrass Submerged
<Would be very, VERY surprised if most/any of these would survive above SG 1.005 at 25 C/77 F. Would strongly recommend you run the tank at SG 1.003 at 25 C/77 F to start with, using those plants. That's just short of 20% seawater, and more than ample for most brackish water fishes and livestock.
It'd be acceptable for your Fiddler Crabs, and being relatively benign animals, you'd have lots of options for things like Endler's Guppies, Black Mollies, or, if you can get them, oddball livebearers such as Micropoecilia parae melanzona, Micropoecilia picta, and Limia nigrofasciata.>
For livestock, I'm thinking (I know, I can't seem to make up my mind!) 3-5 Fiddlers, 5-10 opae'ula shrimp AKA Halocaridina rubra (I'll have hiding places to let them get away from the fiddlers in case they think they're food)
<Very likely. Do bear in mind Cherry Shrimps adapt well to slightly brackish water, and in fact virtually all shrimps are worth trying at low-end brackish water.>
In addition, Fiddlers are mostly Diurnal, while the Opae'ula shrimp are mostly nocturnal. To wrap it up, I think I'll throw in a couple horned/corona Nerites and a ghost shrimp.
<Clithon corona, Clithon sowerbyana and Neripteron auriculata would all thrive in brackish water.>
The tank is a 10 gallon. I know they like to dig, but I think they'll have to settle for man-made tunnels made out of 1/2" PVC pipe.
<Cheers, Neale.>

plants and cycling  1/27/11
Hello Neale,
Me again...
My 55 gal brackish tank has been cycling for about 7 weeks now. Still no ammonia spike.
<Probably because the plants are using the ammonia directly. After 7 weeks it should be perfectly well cycled. I'd start adding fish.>
I know that's not entirely unusual as it could take months to spike but when I set up the tank I used about 10.- 12 cups of substrate from an established tank to boost the beneficial bacteria and help along. I also used part of the filter media from the same established tank and I added 5 mollies. I was going to do a fishless cycle but I decided against it seeing as my 10 gal was getting overstocked with the fry and so I had to move some fish anyways.
So my first question is, is it possible that I added enough bacteria that the ammonia may never spike
or have I simply delayed the cycling process by doing that.
Secondly, I want to strip down the 10 gal and use it's filter in the 50 gal as well as the filter I'm already using. Then I'll have more water movement as well as filtration. Both tanks have the same water parameters and I switch fry/fish back and forth between them pretty regularly they're like the same tank. The 10 gal filter is cycled and established, it's for a 10-20 gal tank. I'm not sure how many gallons it turns an hour. So my question is if I switched this over now and put all my fish into the one tank (50 gal) would this keep the ammonia from ever spiking?
<No, you should be fine.>
As if it was always an established tank. Or would this not to be a good thing to do? Should I wait?
<If you move live filter media, or a mature filter, from one aquarium to another, the new aquarium should cycle "instantly" assuming the bacteria aren't killed off somehow (e.g., by exposure to radically different water chemistry).>
Also, I ordered a few plants off eBay, java fern, java moss and a small Anubias plant. Should I add these to the 50 gal?
<Sure. All these should do well in brackish, provided the salinity is fairly low, I'd say 3-5 grammes/litre if all you're after is Mollies and other low-end species. That's about SG 1.002-1.003 at 25 C/77 F.>
Or should I leave them floating in the 10 gal until the 50gal spikes and then set it up?
<No, don't think it's necessary. It doesn't really matter whether ammonia goes into plants or through a biological filter -- just so long as the ammonia goes away! There are in fact "vegetable filters" that rely 100% on plants using up ammonia. They can work extremely well.>
So many options! I'm just not sure what to do...
Thanks for any input
<Hope this helps Jessica. Cheers, Neale.>

Strange Behaviour from My Columbian Sharks (Arius seemanni), and BW plants   3/20/10
I have a 60g Tank that is set up as brackish. The salinity is about 1.008
<I don't think this can be the case. At SG 1.008, Java ferns and other plants would be dead. Here's the best approach: weigh out the marine salt mix first, and then use your hydrometer to check the specific gravity. On
my web page there's a little program called Brack Calc that tells you how much salt mix you need for a certain salinity at a certain temperature.
For SG 1.008, you'd have to be adding 12.8 grammes of marine salt mix per litre at 25 degrees C (1.7 oz per US gallon at 77 degrees F). There's about 6 grammes of marine salt mix per level teaspoon, so we're talking 2 teaspoons per litre; that's quite a lot of salt mix. Many folks get reading hydrometers completely wrong, so weighing the salt out first is a good way to get roughly the correct salinity, and from there you can fine-tune your ability to use a hydrometer.>
and pH, nitrite, nitrate, and ammonia levels are normal; temperature varies from 29 - 31 degrees.; I have to small pieces of driftwood with attached Java Fern and another type of brackish plant.
<"Brackish plant"? Never seen anything like that on sale. What plant are you talking about here? My concern here is that because there are no brackish water plants sold explicitly in the trade, if you have freshwater plants, then your salinity cannot be nearly as high as you think it is.
This in turn leads to the most obvious conclusion here that if salinity is too low, Colombian Shark catfish won't be happy, and most behavioural abnormalities they exhibit come down to this issue.>
This other plant I am not sure of type it is; it has long light green leaves that are fairly thin and the stem leads into the leaf. They look very similar to the Java only lighter and thinner (I've searched and cannot find a name for them and the manager of the LFS where I purchased them is not in for another week).
<Hmm... doesn't ring any bells, I'm afraid. A photo would help.>
On one side of the tank I am using a lighting that is made specifically for fish while the other side is plant/fish. I have a Castle Decoration that is about a foot tall that is used for hiding.
<For the most part, Colombian Sharks don't hide. They live in estuaries in large groups, and rely on schooling for defence.>
I was originally doing about a 10% water change every week and it was suggested that I should be doing at least 25%. So I did a 50% change and the last change was 25%.
<Yes, 25% every week or two is a good idea.>
After letting the tank cycle for about 3 weeks
<Generally not long enough to fully cycle the tank; I'd expect non-zero nitrite levels, and these will stress your catfish.>
I purchased 3 Colombian Sharks, about 2 months ago (I am planning on upgrading the tank to 150g as they get bigger). For the first month or so they were very active, eating normally, and schooling together. They were about 2.5" and now are just over 3". About a month ago they became Lethargic. This was around the time I added the plants but I have never heard of plants effecting sharks in this way.
<Actually, Colombian Sharks are very easily spooked, and adding things that clutter up the bottom of the tank can cause them a little upset. Best to make sure there is ample swimming room, and keep decorations along the edges. But I still think salinity and/or water quality are the issues here.>
Two of them spend time in the light green plants and one of them hides in the castle. The two that hide in the plants are a very, very light silver compared to when I first purchased them and the one in the castle is almost black in color.
They are still eating actively and at night they still explore the tank but not quite as enthusiastically as normal. If I leave the light off during the day they are a bit more active but not by much. They also seem to be more territorial with each other, even at night.
<They will get over this in time.>
There are no growths or fungus that I can see and they are not rubbing on any of the decorations. I also purchased 3 Sailfin Mollies and they are doing fine and are very active. Is it possible that it is just the plants that are causing the issue?
<Unlikely, but I'd remove the plants anyway, since they won't be happy at the salinities required in the long term.>
and if not what can I do to help my sharks?
Thank You Very Much for All Your Input.
<Cheers, Neale.>

Brackish decor 1/25/2009
I am going to start a brackish fish tank and I am wondering what kind or decor substrate bubblers, and plants rocks I should put in it.
<Rocks and bogwood are fine. Ceramic ornaments good too. Shells, fake corals, etc... if you want. Plants are trickier because only some species tolerate slightly brackish conditions.
At SG 1.003, good choices including Java ferns, Vallisneria, Cryptocoryne wendtii, Amazon swords, etc.>
I was thinking
'¢Small small substrate with the natural look no colour rocks
'¢wall bubbler
'¢live plants if there are any or plastic'¢
and some rock caves
<Do go here:
Many articles on decor, planting, etc. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Planted or brackish for mollies...
Thank you so much for your help! I do have a couple more questions though.
Would a 28 watt light be good enough to grow lower light plants? And in my aquarium the maximum amount of space for a light is a little over 7 inches.
I can find any higher watt bulb that will fit. I have found this...
nt-Bulbs/39616/> but I'm not sure if using just regular fluorescent from a bulb store would work. My tank does get a days worth of sunlight every day so if the bulb in the link I included doesn't work would the 13 watt plus sun be okay? If not what other ideas do you have to up the wattage? Would my best bets for plants be Java moss and fern, Anubias Vallisneria, and Cryptocoryne wendtii in these conditions?
You guys are the best!
<Hello Hannah. Unless the tank is open at the top, daylight is best excluded from the equation. At best, sunlight is useful for stimulating day-length responses in fish, such as spawning. But usually all sunlight
does is encourage algae on the front pane of glass. I've had open-topped tanks on windowsills, and the plants grow right out the top without any need for artificial lighting. It's cool to see, but not really practical in most situations, not least of all because too much sunlight can raise the temperature excessively high. In your aquarium, you have 12 gallons of water and a maximum of 28 watts of light; that's a bit over 2 watts per gallon. That should promote reasonably good growth amongst a range of plants. Certainly, the ferns, moss and Anubias will do very well, and the crypts should too. Vallisneria usually does well under such conditions, but I'd try just a few specimens first to see how things go. I find some varieties, particularly the tightly-spiraled ones, more finicky than others. Hope this helps, Neale.>

Brackish water Plant ID 12/02/08 Hi I have been guided by your excellent website form time to time. I live in India, during a walk on the sea shore during low tide, I picked up bud like plants, I tried to find out about them, but can't get an id.. I put some in tub of freshwater, and they started to grow, sending out roots and opening up, I have planted one of them in my planted tank, it is throwing up a leaf now. Can you help in identifying it. (pic attached).
<<And lost>> Thanks Sandeep <Greetings. The short answer is I have no idea what this plant might be. There are of course many species of plant in brackish water habitats, as well as a few, like mangroves and seagrasses, fully adapted to marine conditions. However, with the exception of one or two mangrove species and a handful of naturally brackish-tolerant freshwater plants such as Cryptocoryne ciliata, very little of the brackish water plant flora ever makes it into the aquarium trade. Consequently, I'm not really able to identify the plant that you've got here. Your best bet is to contact the botany department of your local university or natural history museum. Failing that, some time spent looking through books on native plant floras would be worthwhile, though I imagine comparing a seedling like you have here with the photos of adult plants usually featured in books will be difficult. In the meantime, enjoy your plant, and thanks for writing! Cheers, Neale.>  

Chemistry, I guess... Brackish and plants  11/9/07 Hi Guys, <Greetings,> I have a 40 gal. tank that has 5" of 50% Floromax and 50% Fluorite. I let it cycle for about 6 weeks before adding plants. This eventually is to be a brackish tank with the following flora/fauna: (1) bunch Egeria densa (1) bunch Cabomba fucata (1) bunch Myriophyllum simulans (2) Nomophila corymbasa (1) Cryptocoryne ciliata (1) Nymphoides aquatica These plants were added individually a week ago in 2" net pots. <Hmm... not a fan of pots. Most plants do better freed from pots even if supplied in them. Gently trimming any damaged roots also helps stimulate new growth and prevents decay.> After these species grow and offer some shade, I'd like to add: (2) Bacopa caroliniana Some? Sagittaria subulata (2) Microsorum pteropus Some? Fontinalis sp. (2) Anubias barteri v. Round Leaf Then, when these species grow out, I will add: (6) Caridina japonica (2) Jordanella floridae (a pair) Then I will need to slowly bring the SG to 1.006 and add: (5) Poecilia sphenops (1 male, 4 females) [these are already at 1.006 at the LFS] Done! <Raising the SG to 1.006 is overkill here and likely to stress the plants. While some of these are brackish water specialists (Cryptocoryne ciliata for example) most are not, and will not do well above SG 1.003. I tend to recommend planted brackish water tanks be set up to SG 1.003 and then the plants left for a few months to settle in. You'll soon learn which are flourishing and which are not. Brackish water fish are fine at this salinity, so no harm is done. Acclimating Mollies from SG 1.006 to SG 1.003 is something that takes 30 minutes in a bucket via the drip method or similar. Likewise acclimating Jordanella to brackish water from fresh. Amano shrimps are a bit tricky, because invertebrates on the whole are less tolerant of rapid changes in salinity. There are exceptions of course, the true estuarine invertebrates like Shore Crabs and Nereis ragworms, but Amano shrimps don't fit into this category. Yes, they are common enough in brackish water marshes, and yes, the larvae live in the sea. But Amano shrimps don't live their whole lives in estuaries, and my guess is you'll need to acclimate these over several hours.> Lighting is at 192 W PC, half 6700K/10,000K "sun" light, half 420/460 nm actinic with moonlight. Not ideal, I would like to replace the actinic with another "sun" lamp. I'm not big on the blue lighting. maybe for corals, but.. <Plants are generally much more adaptable to different types of light than corals (i.e., algae). Plants are, of course, far more advanced and sophisticated organisms. Because plants have a range of pigments, they can adapt to whatever wavelength is available. Up to a point, at least. So provided you have sufficient light (around 2 Watts per gallon) most plants will adapt to whatever lamps your hood contains. Something between 5500 and 6500 Kelvin seems to work well.> Temperature is running at 77* F, but I'm trying to get it to 75* F. pH 7.7, but I would like 7.5 <Trivially unimportant, and probably impossible to do given the calcium carbonate content of marine salt mix.> NH4 0.00 NO2 .025 <Too much.> NO3 2.5 dKH 3.3 <Ideally needs to be raised to at least 5 degrees KH, but water changes and marine salt mix should take care of this.> My tap water is hard (12 dKH extrapolated from GH) in SE PA and I add it after a week or so of aeration and circulation. <OK.> I have a media bag with aragonite (an attempt to raise dKH naturally, I don't like chemicals) and activated charcoal in my filter (converted skimmer) with 2 mesh pads on top of each other that I rotate (clean one at a time) for continuous biological filtration. <Carbon filtration is pointless in my opinion. Replace that part of the filter with crushed coral. That'll take care of the hardness.> 10% water changes weekly. <I prefer 50% weekly, but this does rather depend on water quality. If the nitrates stay low, then your regime may well be viable.> I would like my tank water to be in the neighborhood of 11dKH. <Brackish water fish don't really care that much. The marine salt mix, and a bit of crushed coral in the filter should maintain adequate carbonate hardness. Unless you observe wildly fluctuating pH levels, then your hardness content may well be sufficient.> Do I just need more time/maturation, or is there something I'm not doing properly? <Seems fine.> Does Fluorite/Floromax buffer to the acid side? It's hard for me to believe that my tap water is that hard/alkaline (we lie on a limestone bed) and when it hits the tanks it loses all that carbonate. <Plants will remove carbonate if there is insufficient carbon dioxide in the water. This "biogenic decalcification" is rapid and potentially serious.> I can deal with the couple of degrees of temperature, but I need to lower the pH by about 0.2 and significantly raise the alkalinity it would seem. <Why? What do you think you will gain by such a small pH change? Carbon dioxide fertilisation may well be useful in this instance. But otherwise the thing with brackish water fish is to remember they are adaptable. They don't have narrow, fixed chemical parameters. Provided you do adequate water changes an thereby ensure the pH stays on the basic side (between 7.5 and 8.2) and the nitrate levels stay relatively low (less than 50 mg/l) they will be perfectly happy. Your Mollies, for example, can adapt between freshwater and salt water in about 30 minutes, and Jordanella do just as well in soft and acidic water as in mildly brackish. This is obviously completely different to keeping a marine aquarium, where maintaining water conditions within a very tight band of values is essential.> I would appreciate your thoughts. Also, your site is fantastic. I've researched lots of aquaria here and have done well with most of them. (My bad on the ones that went south.) Thank you so much for your efforts. Mike <Good luck, Neale.>

Molly Fry -11/14/07 Hello Crew! After conquering the black moor, I decided to move onto the black molly hybrid. I have a twenty gallon brackish tank with four mollies (three female and one male). The tank is approximately two months old, and has been cycled via help of the common milfoil, java moss, and time. So far, the water tests have been exceptional in general. Here's the problem. Besides the four adult fish, I have 21 brand new molly fry. They are currently one week old and in a well circulated breeding net. What is the right size for the reintroduction of these fish back into the aquarium? Please let me know my best options, and also please direct me to more information on other fun plants to grow in the tank! (Who knew that live plants added so much?) Thanks, Megan <Hello Megan. Rearing Black Molly fry isn't too difficult, though there are some things to watch. Yes, the parents can eat very small fry. But if you grow the fry on for 3-4 weeks, they should be easily big enough to go back into the tank with their parents. To get good growth, feed the fry often but small amounts. Experts recommend at least 6 meals per day! This obviously means you need to give tiny amounts each time, or water quality will plummet. If you decide to keep the fry in a large breeding trap (certainly do-able, if not as good as a breeding tank) be sure and put some floating plants in the breeding trap. This helps give the fry shade, so they don't overheat. Lots of plants work well in slightly brackish water. Almost anything that does well in hard water can be expected to do well at SG 1.002-1.003. Cryptocoryne wendtii, Anubias nana, Java fern, Vallisneria spiralis, Elodea, and the Indian fern Ceratopteris are all good choices. As you've spotted, plants have a great impact on aquaria, especially breeding traps. They give baby fish a place to hide, helping you rescue them. Plants also get covered in green algae and other microbes, and baby fish love to eat all this stuff. Cheers, Neale>

Old Discussion on Dragon Goby, New Discussion on Glassfish, BW plt.s  2/22/07 On 2/20/07, crew <crew@mail.wetwebmedia.com> wrote: Dragon Gobies Stuck in Aquarium Ornaments  2/20/07 [...]<Actually, that's exactly where my Dragon lives.  The fake mangrove root I have in my BW tank, has an end of one of the roots broken off & he slips inside it & lives in there.  He has no problem turning around inside the ornament & comes out often, to eat.> LOL how cool :)  I'm such a worry-wart (my girls call him "Mama's little bog monster.") - just had this vision of the poor little guy getting stuck in something like that. < [...]<Sounds like a happy life for your Dragon!> So far so good!  I've bought 2 glassfish (au naturale, no ink thanks) - Chanda ranga, for the brackish tank  They are still in quarantine, but for all I've read, they should be good tankmates for him.  I know that they were eating flake food in the store but I can't seem to get them to eat anything so far (have tried flake food, frozen brine shrimp, frozen AND freeze-dried bloodworms, freeze-dried plankton).  I've read varying accounts of glassfish, some say they are good eaters, others say they need live food.  They are very timid, I'm wondering if they would eat better if there were more of them in my tank (5 or 6 total)?   <<A school of them would be nice.  They may just be adjusting to their new home.>> I don't even know where to get live food - I tried to grow my own brine shrimp for my livebearer fry but I'm filing that one under "failed experiment." <<I get blackworms from my LFS.  Rinsed well in a brine shrimp net & stored in a shallow container with a little water, in the refrigerator.  My dragon's favorite food!>> Seems like I read that you have a planted brackish tank? <Nope, I have a 90g planted discus tank.  No surviving plants in my BW tank.  ~PP> Heheh well that might be us pretty soon too, I have read it's very hard to keep plants in salty water.  What about marine plants though?  Do you think any of them could do well in BW? <Marine plants won't fair well till a SG of around 1.018.  There are many BW plants that folks have success with, just not worth the trouble for me, since I already have a FW planted tank I'm happy with.  Here's a great thread on BW plants: http://www.thepufferforum.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=4792&highlight=brackish+plants  ~PP> Thanks again, Cathy

Brackish water aquarium   12/31/06 http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/bracsetupfaqs.htm I was just wondering if you could give me a better picture of the tank <Mmm, nope... not our pic> and also i <I> would like too know where you can find mangrove branches because i could not find any at the LFS <Try some of the big etailers... some are listed on our links: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/bracsyslinks.htm Bob Fenner>

Possible error... fix  - 06/07/06 Hi Bob, <Spike> Was looking at your nice site and ran across a possible error.  On http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/bracplants.htm under the definition of Brackish, it says "...most seawaters have about 2.5% salt content..."  I think most sea water is about 3.5%, right? <Yep... about 35 ppt... 'cept the Red Sea which is about ten percent higher. Will fix. Thank you. BobF> Best, Spike

Brackish Plants? 3/7/05 <Hi Barret, Pufferpunk here> Hello, I've got a brackish tank, and now I'd like to have LIVE plants. All the aquarium stores around here say that plants don't do well in them or they don't have any plants. Can I order some from you? I've got 2 GSPs (green spotted puffers) and 2 Monos (1 of which is a Sebae). I'm also upgrading the tank size to a 75 gal. Please e-mail me back if you could. <The shops are right. FW plants will "melt" in most any amount of salt. Especially the high amounts of salt that the fish you have will need (even marine conditions as adults). In very low-end BW, you can try keeping java fern/moss, but your fish really need more salt than even those plants can tolerate. There are many nice silk plants which will look fairly realistic in your tank. You may find that as the puffers mature, they will pick on your Monos. Monos really belong in a school & grow to around a foot. Here's a good article on your puffers: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm> Thanks a lot, Barret <Good luck with your fish. ~PP>

Plants in brackish? 3/7/04 Right on man (girl :))... Looks like I'll get down to scraping algae. Beautiful tanks by the way. I just started adding live plants to my puffers aquarium. I have one of those plants that have banana looking roots and some other plants I have no idea but they look a hell of a lot nicer then plastic. You suggest a heavily planted tank for the puffer? I got a nice little cave place for him, but your tanks look so dope I may have to take those as an example and plant the hell out of them. <There are a few plants that will survive in low-end BW--java fern & moss (up to around 1.005), but higher than that, there are no FW plants that will live.  As soon as you starting adding salt, all your FW plants will "melt" & could foul your water.  That's why I went for the saltwater "look" (everything in that tank is fake).> My GSP should grow to full size in a 20 Gallon if he is kept solo, right? Even with a heavily planted tank? <Yes, with the proper care & feeding, it should grow to 6".  Have you read my article on GSPs? http://www.wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/gspsart.htm> Thanks for all your advice once again. I deleted all my other bookmarks to fish pages because the advice received from your crew has been right on for what I'm looking for. Focus on a fish, not on some overcrowded "show" tank. PEACE <Thanks & peace to you too!  ~PP>

Brackish Water Plants I realize that there are many plants that can tolerate brackish water conditions, but can you specifically recommend any that are ACTUALLY from native brackish conditions and prefer brackish water? I have a G. Tile "freshwater" moray eel who was originally kept in my heavily planted freshwater tank. I sincerely believe that one of the main contributors to his settling in and eating so quickly is that I originally placed him in a heavily planted tank. I also got to view him more frequently then b/c he felt comfortable enough w/ all the plant life around to stick his head out toward the open more and even occasionally explore the tank a little while still in view beneath the foliage of my plants. I am now converting my current tank to brackish conditions (min SG 1.010, using a commercial sea salt mix) and my formerly happy plants, which are listed as being ok for brackish systems, are currently biting the dust. I am also using fertilizer, but I am limited as there is some evidence that copper is HIGHLY toxic to G. Tile and must be avoided under all circumstances. Any suggestions for plants that are originally from brackish water conditions and will thrive in them, rather than merely tolerate? <Hey Keri, congrats on moving the your G. Tile to brackish conditions.  Check out the link below for some info on brackish water plants.  Best Regards, Gage http://wetwebmedia.com/BrackishSubWebIndex/bracplants.htm  > Thanks, Keri

Re: Java Ferns Hello, On the website it says that Java is naturally brackish.  Can it survive a brackish system with higher levels of salt than 1.005?  And if so, how much higher do you think? <I have had java ferns in a tank with a specific gravity of around 1.008, and they grew fairly slowly. I actually raised the specific gravity in that tank to 1.015 for a brief period, and the java ferns didn't flinch. They didn't grow much during that time, either.> Secondly, a 55 gallon tank I have houses about 10 cichlids.  I've always used an air-pump, a Fluval canister filter, and an AquaClear power filter.  My first question is, can I get rid of this air-pump with a lot of plants?   <You not only can get rid of it, but you should get rid of it. The air pump will take the carbon dioxide out of the water column and away from the plants that need it.> I  have a decent amount of hornwort, five large Java ferns (at least 8 full leaves), and a few less developed Java ferns.   <Very nice.> Also, I read in a book yesterday that power filters weren't so good, because they leave no CO2 in the water.  Should I think about going without the AquaClear, or is this bad advice? <I've seen the same advice. I don't have any experience with canister filters. I have a power filter on one of my planted tanks, and my plants are still growing. If your Fluval is big enough to filter the tank by itself, you could try it solo for awhile.> Thanks, Andy B <You're welcome. --Ananda>

Moving freshwater plants to marine? Hi I have a salt water tank and also a fresh water tank. can I transfer a plant I have in the fresh water tank into the salt water tank? or is that dangerous for the salt water fish thank you bob <Mmm, some "freshwater" plants are more brackish... but none can be plunked from fresh to marine (or vice versa). Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/brackishplts.htm Bob Fenner>

Re: FW Puffer Mr. Fenner, I've been doing a little looking around for those brackish plants I asked about. I found a web site http://geocities.com/Heartland/Fields/4541/salties.htm It seems like a good list of plants.  <Yes, do agree with all presented... and would/will add a handful more genera> I will do some research to see if any match my water conditions. Just thought I would pass it along. :) <Do appreciate it, thank you> I believe that the best rock I have found for my figure eight puffer tank (10 gallon) is tufa. I have posted on WetWebFotos and hope for some feed back there too. Thank you again for your time! Don <Thank you my friend. Bob Fenner>

FW Puffer Mr. Robert Fenner, I enjoy your book CMA a great deal. It has helped me through the set up of my 80 gallon FOWLR system. Thank you for sharing your knowledge with so many through your books and web site. <Thank you for your kind encouraging words> My question is not about my SW system but about a 10 gallon brackish system I am going to set up. <Am too tuckered out this eve or was going to key a piece I penned a couple of weeks back, and place on WWM... on brackish system components... perhaps tomorrow AM> I have always wanted a puffer. Now that I know that I want to lean more heavily on the invertebrate side in my SW, I thought I would attempt a small SW system. Not a good idea from what I am reading. I now know that it would spell disaster being that I have only been into SW for seven months. Too small of a system anyway. :) So I went to the middle and thought that an attempt at a brackish system with the figure eight puffer would be a good thing. My question is how to aquascape the tank. I know from your web-site good brackish plants (would like to see more.. hint-hint) <Ah, yes...> I could use. What I would like is to give as much of a biotopic environment as I can. I have done a great deal of research online (not a very good surfer) about water conditions but have never see pictures or even hints of their natural environment. Could you point me in the right direction? <Am in agreement with you re the paucity and quality of brackish information... will augment, put together what I can from an old Braz Walker book, many hobbyist and bulletin articles... and glean what I can from the scientific literature...> Rock, plants, wood work? More of one then the other? <Depends on the species kept... but more plants in general... and rock/decor that will lend alkalinity and biomineral content to the water for this puffer> Another question and I will leave you be. I want a SG of 1.011. I have the equipment to measure that thankfully. I would like to know if it is the same rule as SW, to top-off with fresh, not salt water? <For fresh for intermediate maintenance, pre-made similar/same spg water for actual change-outs> Thank you so very much for your time and any help you can offer. Don <Be chatting (and writing!) my friend. Bob Fenner>

Re: FW Puffer Mr. Robert Fenner, Now that was what I call a fast reply. All I did was go and clean out my skimmer cup on my SW system and came back online to see your post. Wow, I commend you for your level of devotion on answering your email. <It's a "reflex defensive mechanism/exercise... If I don't "keep-up" I get buried...> I will look forward to you next brackish works! I am in the process of finding a LFS that has or can acquire plants that will do well in my BW puffer tank. <Will key the pieces I outlined then finish the one on "brackish plants", key, place, send out to hobby 'zines. If you don't see this work in a week or two, please contact/goose me> >Rock, plants, wood work? More of one then the other? ><Depends on the species kept... but more plants in general... and rock/decor that will lend alkalinity and biomineral content to the water for this puffer> Thank you for that suggestion! I thought crushed coral (aragonite) would be a good Alk booster and ph stability helper. I will do the research on your web site for the best rocks. :) I will look forward to upcoming additions to you BW site. Take care and I hope a good dose of rest is in you near future. :) <Thank you my friend. Much better this AM. Bob Fenner> Don 

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